Guest of honour at the prize-giving ceremony for the federal awards of the Royal Belgian Football Association (U.R.B.S.F.A.) on 18th October in Brussels, FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter was made an honorary U.R.B.S.F.A member. The event was also attended by Michel D'Hooghe, a member of FIFA's executive committee, and Emir Kir, Minister of Sport for the Brussels region.
Touched and very grateful to the U.R.B.S.F.A Executive Committee headed by the chairman Jan Peeters, Joseph S. Blatter underlined in his speech the close and historic links between Belgian football and FIFA. Belgium was one of the seven founding members of FIFA who came together in Paris on 21st May 1904, represented by the general secretary of its federation, Louis Muhlinghaus, and its vice-chairman, Max Kahn.
Forty-eight hours later, at the first FIFA Congress, the former was appointed secretary and treasurer of world football's governing body. Then, in 1905, Baron Edouard de Laveleye, president of the Union Belge des Sociétés de Sports Athlétiques, became FIFA's first-ever honorary member, primarily in recognition of his decisive role in the affiliation of the English Football Association to FIFA.
In 1954, the Belgian Rodolphe William Seeldrayers succeeded Jules Rimet to become the fourth President of FIFA, a position he retained until his death in October 1955. But Belgium has not merely been represented in the game's administration. It has also made its presence felt on the field of play. Referee Jan Langenus took charge of the very first FIFA World Cup final on 30 July 1930 in Montevideo (Uruguay-Argentina, 4-2), assisted from the touchline by his countryman Henry Christophe.
In addition, the Belgian national team - the "Red Devils" - can point to its participation in seven FIFA World Cups (quarter-finalists in 1994), while many of the country's sides have enjoyed success in the European club competitions.
Before the ceremony, Joseph S. Blatter had the opportunity to meet Xavier Deleuze and to make an entry in his "Celebrity Visitors' Book", an initiative that asks personalities from the political, cultural, artistic and sporting world to signal their support for the cause of disabled people in the world by means of a dedication. Xavier Deleuze intends to present this collection to Kofi Annan on 9th December to mark the 30th anniversary of the Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons.